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Digital archive of theses discussed at the University of Pisa


Thesis etd-12142015-174612

Thesis type
Tesi di dottorato di ricerca
Thesis title
Risk premia and European debt crisis: CDS-hedging, Ponzi public finance and a dynamic approach to sovereign default
Academic discipline
Course of study
tutor Prof. Marmi, Stefano
tutor Dott. Nassigh, Aldo
  • EMU debt crisis
  • Ponzi schemes
  • sovereign risk
  • standard CDS
Graduation session start date
The financial crisis affecting European Monetary Union (EMU) since late 2008 led to the deterioration of credit quality of several countries in the Eurozone. The thesis explores both financial and macroeconomic issues of such debt crisis. The goal is to infer a cross-country sovereign risk measure in order to monitor and anticipate perilous recessive spirals which might lead to default. In the first part, results on risk-neutral pricing of defaultable claims are applied to government bonds, so that idiosyncratic risk premia decompositions are available for any EMU country. The sovereign risk portion is detachable with the use of standardized Credit Default Swaps (CDS) contracts. Dynamic term structures of hedging portfolios are coherently retrievable in this new standard market, bringing forth a set of default-free sovereign term structures. A comparison of these latter to money-market rates induces an alternative definition of the CDS-bond basis. The determinants of synthetic-cash credit market arbitrage opportunities are to be investigated within a full macro-financial environment.This motivates the second part of this work. The well-known prociclicality of the banking sector in real business cycle plays a central role in the exacerbation of economic crises. In this sense, credit crunch and increase in global risk aversion of investors may induce both safe-haven (liquidity floods) and default (liquidity dries-up) phenomena, attributable to shifts in sovereign debt demand curves. The aim becomes thus to construct a dynamic score which allows to detect the 'point of no return', beyond which target country cannot increase its debt level whatever the premium provided in yields, because of a lack of investors willing to buy it. A pure econometric approach is unsatisfacory, so the analysis evolves with the economic backdrop provided by the analysis of Ponzi borrowing schemes.
Positive growth rates of debt-to-gdp ratios evaluated at market yields induce a dynamic scoring which can be compared to risk-neutral hazard rates, and be used to compute a physical default metric.
Cointegration analysis shows long-run equilibria between the two default probability measures in non-core countries. This proves that both macroeconomic and financial conditions pace a common long-term path as instructed by the joint macro-financial situation of target distressed country.